I used to hate shows where you had to sit in a seat. Now that I’m older and I can feel the toll that spending every night on my feet is starting to take on my body, I look forward to seated shows. That’s not the only reason I was excited to spend my Monday night at the gorgeous State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis but it was definitely one of the driving factors of me choosing the show I did. Another factor was the fact that I knew I was going to see a legend and get a show that would be so different from what I typically witness. I was excited to sit but more excited to witness the magic that is Nick Cave.
Nick Cave is and isn’t a household name at the same time. If you know, you know. I know that sounds cliche and a bit like a cop-out but it’s true. If you’re into music in any way, shape, or form, you at least know Nick’s name from his work as the frontman for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Heck, you probably know his distinct voice what with his super dark and almost spooky baritone tone. Regardless, the audience was clearly ready to witness Nick’s genius put on stage on Monday night. You could tell by the excited conversations happening in the aisles before Nick took the stage around 8:20 on Monday night.
I’m not going to try and pretend like I know Nick’s material because I don’t. Although I’ve listened to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in passing, I’ve never spent the time to dig into the band. This could have come in handy on Monday night but, at the same time, I liked seeing every song like it was a brand new track to me because, well, it was. Out of the twenty-five song set, I didn’t recognize a single track but I did recognize the talent and legend that I was witnessing and, really, that’s more important anyway.
Kicking the set off with “Girl in Amber”, I was first struck by the being that is Nick Cave. He’s a tall and thin man who has this almost larger-than-life aura about him without being a big guy (although he did look ridiculously tall from where I was sitting). He didn’t say anything before sitting down at the gorgeous black grand piano center stage and just jumped into his first song. His voice echoed through the gorgeous theatre in a controlled but eerie way. It created a dark and ominous tone that would remain throughout the two-hour set and would have me completely captivated.
Captivated could be the word of the night for me. Although I didn’t know the music and, honestly didn’t know much history on Nick, he had me stuck in the palm of his hand. He came off as a super serious man when it came to his music. His lyrics revolved around all things dark and were full of a heartbroken passion that was palpable in the room yet, when he addressed the crowd, he had this very dry sense of humor. I found it hilarious but also so confusing. At one point, someone in the audience shouted “Happy Birthday!” to the musician. He quickly turned to where the voice was coming from and flatly stated, “It’s not my f*@$ing birthday!” and then continued on with what he was doing. He did come back to the statement declaring that his birthday was just a couple of days ago as if to validate the person who had wished him the birthday treat but it was one of those odd moments where he came off as serious as his music while having a shining personality that I could sit and watch all day.
There was one moment in one song that I think will stick with me for a long time. At the end of one of the songs (like I already mentioned, I really didn’t know what song was what and was so captivated that I didn’t keep track in my notes and I’m sorry), there was the line “Just Breathe”. Simple enough. But Nick took it to a new level. He repeated these two simple words over, and over, and over, and over, and over (okay, you get it) again until he was out of breath. The power of him saying these two words repeatedly in just one breath was a powerful moment but it was the way you could tell he was running out of steam at the end that left me with this “a-ha moment”. Okay, “a-ha moment” is maybe bad phrasing here but it definitely left me with my jaw on the ground and almost got a standing ovation from me even though the show was far from over (but nerves and anxiety got the best of me and I hate being that person so I just cheered wildly from my seat).
There were many moments throughout the set where people would rise out of their seats at random times to cheer on the musician. At first I didn’t get it but then I noticed the people around me. Some were crying, some were smiling, some were singing along, none were on their phones. Other than a quick snap of a photo, there was no distraction from Nick Cave and that says all that needs to be said about the audience. They wanted to see Nick Cave perform and didn’t want to miss a single moment– so they didn’t.
I have absolutely talked your ear off about Nick Cave so I should probably stop before I’m ahead but, before I let you go, I have to acknowledge the only other person on stage with Nick on Monday night- Colin Greenwood. Colin held it down on the bass in a perfect way which was not surprising. Although Colin’s playing absolutely added a sense of depth to the music, it was subtle and Colin never took the spotlight away from Nick. He easily could have. I mean, Colin is the bassist of Radiohead– he could have done whatever he wanted but the respect he showed Nick Cave and the way he played to only enhance, not take away from Nick’s music was brilliant.
Long story short, I got to take a break from being on my feet all night which was amazing but, in all honesty, I left the show exhausted. I just felt drained because I was so honed in on what was going on on stage and in the air. I was hit by a truck musically and emotionally. A dark, brooding, and beautiful truck that came in the form of Nick Cave. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover but I don’t think I mind either.